Cathy’s Wealth of Health: Sugar – my drug of choice

Cathy_5-22-09By Cathy McNease, Herbalist

This is the time of year that we all crave change for the better. A huge number of Americans resolved recently to lose weight, exercise more, and eat healthier in the new year. More than 90% will fall short of the goal before very many weeks of 2013 pass. Why? Are we weak willed? I say, no. We are addicted to bad foods, mostly sugar, fats and refined carbohydrates.

Unfortunately, this addiction is killing us very insidiously. The current generation of kids are predicted to live shorter lives than their parents, in large measure due to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in children these days, with 1/3 of Americans kids and 2/3 of adults now overweight or obese. This number has been rising since 1980, when high fructose corn syrup became widely used in our foods and drinks. Sugar in all of its forms is very addictive, activating the same brain centers as cocaine, causing the release of dopamine and a feeling of euphoria. Just like other drugs, frequent sugar eaters develop a tolerance and need larger quantities to feel good. Recent research shows that fructose in particular, never appears to register “enough” in the brain, so we keep eating more. That is also a problem with the artificial sweeteners which cause us to eat more calories in an attempt to “fill in” what is missing calorically with that extreme sweet taste. Do our lives lack sweetness?